Monday, October 31, 2011

My Ritual

 The negative emotions written on the pieces of paper are 'low self-esteem' and 'jealousy'.

As the paper burnt I chanted and reflected on positive transformation.
Jealousy will be transformed into...
Appreciation of the gifts I have. I will share them with the understanding that when I do there will be more for all.
Low self-esteem will be transformed into...
Valuing the unique qualities I possess--such as a sense of humour, creativity, determination, wisdom and compassion.
This is my intent...
These are the stitches I will cast on.
Next post:  NaNoWriMo (this time for sure. :) )

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Inches (short story) by Leanne Dyck

A woman struggles for self-acceptance.

I wrote Inches in 2006. It's my pleasure to offer it to you today--but, please be forewarned, it's a little gory.

Knitting is simply sticks and string.  My words are simply vowels and consonants. The work is yours.  You must cast on each stitch to knit.  You must listen to understand.

While you are knitting and before what you are knitting takes shape, others, may guess as to what the finished item will be:  a sweater, a hat, a …

So it is for knitting as it is for my tale.  Looking at me consciously or unconsciously you are making a series of value judgments.  You hope that these value judgments will prepare you for what you are about to hear. 

You think, She’s young, she’s pretty. 

But I didn’t always look like this.  Would you be surprised to learn that I once weighed double, no triple my current weight?  Yes, indeed I was enormous.

“Piggy, Tub of Lard, Fatso” that was me.  Kind people would say, “Pretty face shame about the body.”  Turning to face me, they'd enquire “Don’t you care how you look?” – if they only knew. 

Truth was, I'd tried it all:  dieting, vomiting, exercising, fasting--nothing worked. 

Each night, at my local bar, I drown my sorrows in glass after glass of wine.  This particular night, I was determined to use liquid courage to end my life.  What did I have to live for?  Who would care if I were gone?

In this humble place, I found an unexpected answer – him.  He appeared like a god out of thin air. 

At first, I rejected his advances – I had been the butt of jokes before and I did not wish to be again.  He wouldn't be denied. Flowers were delivered to my work. I found love letters in my mail.  He asked me out again and again until, finally, I weakened.  

I said, "Yes." and, in response, he wined and dined me. For the first time in my life, I felt attractive, desirable. When he asked me to go away with him I was on cloud nine.  How could I refuse?  Why would I refuse?

He found a charming country inn on a tiny island.  We spent every minute of every day together--alone in the universe. 

During this magical weekend, he began my transformation.  Bite by bite, mouthful by mouthful, he shaped me into the woman I am today.   

He dialed the phone. "I need a steak knife and a fork. Please wrap them in a tea towel and place them at our door. Knock once and leave." He told the front desk.

Each meal, he plunged the steak knife into my flesh and hacked off the fat. He popped it into his mouth. "Hmmm, you taste so good." He told me I was the best he'd ever eaten.

Sure, I can’t deny it hurt at first, but you can get used to anything.  At the end of that weekend, I was a transformed woman.  
Thanks to him, I can stand tall.  Now I’m a woman any man would cherish.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Making writing easier by Leanne Dyck

Facing that blank page can be overwhelming. Filling it challenging. Here are two helpful sites.

Dilemma:  To set the scene, you must see the scene. A couple of days ago I faced this challenge--and came up dry. It'd simply been too long since I set foot in an grade two classroom.
Solution:  I typed 'grade two classroom' into
Google images 
Yield:  over ten pages of photos--gold for my muse.

Dilemma:  I'm dyslexic. So spelling has always been a challenge. Moreover, words such as 'advice' and 'advise' confuse me.
Solution:  I use not only will this site supply the correct spelling but it will also read the word to you. This site also offers a thesurus as well as other tools. Check it out.

More helpful sites...
Kristen Lamb's blog:  Kristen is offering a blog series on novel structure. It was very helpful for me--hopefully it will be helpful for you.
Rock Your Writing:  Talks about ploting your novel and your scenes so that you can write faster. NaNo, anyone?

That's only four--I'm sure there's lots more. Please share your links in the comments.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Autumn beauty

Next post:  Please welcome Author Barbara Elsborg

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

His Toque (short story) by Leanne Dyck

His Toque

One of my island neighbours knit her husband a toque. Forty years later he still wears it. She tells him that it has become ugly with age – he still wears it. She explains that the yarn has become piled – he still wears it. She says the colours have faded – he still wears it.

"Maybe if I could knit another exactly like it, he'd let me throw that ugly old thing out. But I no longer have that pattern," she tells me.

“I can design a toque to match that one.”

“Really? Well, that would be lovely, dear.”  She hands me the toque and a bag of yarn. 

Arriving home, I set to work. The toque is a clever design. There are a few things I would change but I resist the impulse. Casting on leads to casting off. I sew the seam and weave in the ends. I put the new toque with the old into the bag of unused yarn and walk to my neighbour's. She is pleased to see me and inquires about my progress.

“I’m finished.” I hand her the bag.

She fishes out the new toque and hands the bag back. "You've done a lovely job, dear."

Her husband walks into the room. "That my new toque?" He takes it out of his wife's hands and pulls it on. "It fits."  He kisses his wife and waves to me. “I’m going for a walk.” 

Later, with the old toque as my muse, I make alterations and produce a pattern. One toque leads to another and another and another. I've knit the toque for men, women, and children. The toque has been enjoyed by all. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

handknitting pattern: winter hat designed by Leanne Dyck

My favourite toque
Fits most adults

Fast, easy, and fun--a perfect first knitting project

Yarn: worsted weight
Weight (in ounces and grams) of the skein/ball:  3.5 oz/ 100 grams
Length (in yards and meters) of the skein/ball:  230 yards/ 210 metres

Needle size:  1 pair of 4.50 mm (7 US, 7 UK)

Tension:  20 stitches x 8 rows = 4 inches over Stockinette stitch

Stitch pattern

4 x 4 rib stitch (over even number of stitches)
Row 1:  knit 4, purl 4--to end of row
Repeat row for pattern

1 x 1 rib stitch (over even number of stitches)
Row 1:  knit 1, purl 1--to end of row
Repeat row for pattern

Cast on 80 stitches
Work in 4 x 4 rib stitch for 11 inches (27. 5 cm)
This row:  knit two together to end of row (40 stitches remain)
Work in 1 x 1 rib for 1 inch (2 cm)
Pull yarn through remaining stitches, sew the side seam and weave in ends. 

Next post:  I will share the story of how I developed this design.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Guest Post Terrill Welch (artist)

I met Terrill Welch at an event she organized to celebrate International Women's Day. After our short chat, I had a feeling that I had met a dynamic woman, who is living in a life of abundance.

I'm pleased to introduce Terrill.

Where did you live before coming to Mayne Island?

Naming the string of places I have called home would make a fairy ring around Mayne Island. We most recently lived in Pedder Bay on the far side of the district of Metchosin outside of Victoria. I was born in the farming community of Vanderhoof, British Columbia in the year 1958.

Why did you come to Mayne Island?

My partner and I could live anywhere in the world. David is retired and my business is flexible and international in scope. We quickly decided that we wanted to stay in Canada. Prince Edward Island was a strong contender on our list of choices. Fortunately, we found our home first before deciding on any particular geographic location and it just happened to be on Mayne Island. We moved to Mayne Island in May 2007. We now live in a beautiful eco-friendly strawbale timberframe home that was built by Tracy Calvert. To the relief of our collection of eight grown children, we have settled on the south west coast instead of across the country!

Why do you stay?

We are comfortable with the semi-rural life-style and feel like a valued part of the small community here on the island.

What do you do for fun on the island?

My most favourite island activity is to hike around exploring cliffs and seashores with a heavy digital cannon camera slung over my shoulder. My second most favourite thing is to have friends and family over to visit.

What are you employed at?

I am a full-time creative being between impressionist nature paintings, photography and writing. 

When did you first dip a brush into paint?

My first memory of painting is with powered pigments mixed into water colour paints when I was seven years old. I remember being very frustrated with them and the big brush I was using because nothing would work itself into what I had been imagining for that big sheet of paper.

If we had peeked over your shoulder, what would we have seen on your canvas?

I would have been painting horses, cows, trees, fields and a barn. These were things from my everyday world. We lived 80 miles outside the nearest town and were about 20 miles from the nearest hamlet with a store, gas station, post office and a school. This was the year I was homeschooled.

How has your subject matter evolved over time?

Now that you mention it, I am still painting what is around me. I love painting trees, the sea and sky.

How did you develop your talent?

Like any creativity, photography and painting talent comes from a love of doing something. I invest myself in developing my talent by practicing. I practice. I read. I study. I learn. Plus, I am part of creative communities where it is fun, satisfying and enjoyable.

How old were you when you had your first art show and where was it?

Leanne you are taxing my memory. (Oh, my friend, no one said this was going to be easy. : ) ) Let's see, the first big show I remember was entering a submission in a regional exhibition where works of art were juried and chosen from the smaller communities to be represented in a provincial show in Vancouver B.C. I was around fifteen years old. I remember submitting an oil painting of a sunset of some trees hanging over a riverbank. It was a scene I was deeply familiar with as it was right outside my door. I was so proud of that painting. I remember getting it framed and my mother driving me from our farm outside of Vanderhoof all the way to the city of Prince George B.C. to drop off my submission. I also remembered how disappointed I was when it wasn't selected. I think the worst part was that there was no feedback. No one said how it could be improved or what they thought I had done well. I didn't cry but I sure felt like it. The ride home was longer than usual that day.

What would you have whispered into that young artist's ear?

I learnt a valuable lesson when we went back to pick up that painting from the regional competition--always paint or photograph or create, first, for your own sensibilities. I would have whispered into that naive young artist's ear "just do what you love and must be done. Never mind what others think becasue in the end it is not terribly important."

Your art graces many homes--in which countries are these home located?

It is so much fun to have my work out there globe trotting in a way I have never been. Let's see there are many pieces in Canada and the United States but also in England and Switzerland. My new little coffee table book Precious Seconds -- Mayne Island in paintings and photographs is the one that has surprised me the most. It has been purchased all across the United States from central U.S. and then one coast and then all the way to the other coast. But I am still waiting to sell my first copy in Canada.

Where can we buy your art?

My work can be purchased directly from my home studio, several local venues such as the Green House Restaurant, the Oceanwood Resort or the Farm Gate Store and through a variety of online venues. The best place to view work that is currently available and to link to the various outlets is through my online gallery Terrill Welch Artist at

You have a very popular blog. What are your future plans for it?

The Creative Potager blog with its inspirational sprout questions which is attached to each post certainly does host a lively community of creative beings. The readers who comment and share in response to these posts provide a rich and self-sustaining platform for my new photographs and paintings. This works well for me and it seems to work equally well for others. Therefore, I shall keep posting Mondays an Fridays with the occasional special project such as the three October Sunday posts -- Salish Sea Sunday Studio Savings that is offering savings on featured work for one hour.

Parting words

Thank you for asking me such thoughtful questions Leanne. May we remember, no matter what we do -- creativity is the emerald of our success.
This breathtaking photo graces the cover of Terrill Welch's new book
Precious Seconds--Mayne Island in paintings and photographs

Short Biography:

Mayne Island artist and photographer Terrill Welch's distinctive palette, quick sure painting strokes and photographic images capture forest, sandstone, sea and sky. They remind us that there is only one moment --this one.

Born in the village of Vanderhoof in north central British Columbia, Terrill's art training came at an early age and continued more in the European style of mentoring and tutoring.

Terrill Welch's work in water miscible oil paints and her photography printed on canvas showcase the beautiful, mysterious and rugged southwest coast of Canada.

A complete artist's biography is located on Terrill's popular Creative Potager blog.

Terrill Welch
artist, photographer, writer

Online Gallery
Creative Potager blog
Photography at redbubble


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Maynely A Mystery

Me:  I recently received a review of my cozy mystery.
You:  Hey, I didn't know you wrote a cozy mystery.
Me:  Oh, sorry. Would you like to learn more?
You: Of course!

Maynely A Mystery

(paperback published in June 2009)
The last words of her beloved Grandmother send Olivia Weatherington on a journey to Mayne Island, BC. There, Olivia follows clue after clue to solve a six decades old family mystery.

“My people, my nation has been coming here from the beginning of time. This is a magical island,” he smiled. “You were lost when you came here but now the island has found you. It will reveal many lessons to you:  why you’re here; who you are; where you came from. Don’t be afraid to learn. These lessons will leave you stronger.” Michael got up and strode away.

Peppered with subtle humour, surreal situations and entertaining characters.
Amber Harvey (Mayne Island Aliens)

In Maynely A Mystery, her first novel, Leanne Dyck takes her skill at writing emotionally charged stories from nonfiction into fiction. Her writing about knitting has given her the skills needed to spin a yarn in this new genre.
Donna Druchunas (Ethnic Knitting Exploration)

Rumours of gold, a secret lover, ghosts and other mysteries create a labyrinth of intrigue as Maynely A Mystery traces the lives of the story’s animated eccentric characters. Author Leanne Dyck knows her craft, her audience, and her setting. Her novel provides a voyeuristic glimpse into human character and island life.
Terrill Welch (Leading Raspberry Jam Visions:  Women’s Way)

Maynely a Mystery by author Leanne Dyck is an intriguing book about a mysterious island filled with interesting eccentric characters.  Mayne Island is an island located in the Gulf Islands between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island.  It is an island where time stands still, where hippies can lead their lives how they like and where people tend to find themselves in the silence.  The author lives there and is obviously devoted to her home as she has found herself there.
Young Olivia Weatherington will also find herself there.  She sets out on a journey with her grandmother's ashes and her cousin.  She ends up finding truth, contentment and she finds what was missing in her life for so many years.

Leanne Dyck has a unique way of weaving a mysterious tale. Very enjoyable, quick read. Kathryn Poulin, reviewer

Monday, October 10, 2011

Finishing a cardigan

Written on February 12, 2015:  My knitter friends are finding my old knitting posts. So it must be time for an update. I gave in to my itch to knit just before Christmas. I started turning out presents -- left, right and centre. I made three scarves, four hats and a baby sweater. All was good. No wrist pain. So I pulled out two unfinished projects. Two cardigans, knit much the same this one is. Well, this turned out to be a big mistake. I made headway on both, but at the expense of my wrists. So I've had to shelf the cardigans, once again. Once upon a time, I could finish a new sweater about every third week. I was knitting crazy. A word to the wise: use caution, control this impulse. 

Cool blog title, eh? I was pretty stoked about it. A nice new cardigan just in time for Thanksgiving. Um, yeah, that's what I thought until things weren't horribly wrong.
 the front
 the back
 the sleeve (I do have two)
 Unsuspecting, I attached the sleeve to the body and that's when I found.
 the problem--the front is approximately two inches shorter than the back.
the solutions--I ripped out the front and put it back on the needles. My cardigan may be ready for Thanksgiving--the one in November.
As I ripped out the stitches I thought, Yet another reason why I'm glad I'm now an author and not a knitwear designer--you can argue with words but not with numbers.
Next post:  focus on Maynely A Mystery

Friday, October 7, 2011

Guest Post author Janet Bolin

How/why did you start to write?

I began telling stories as soon as I could talk and found an audience, usually other little kids. My favorite friends tended to be very gullible.

I wrote my first poem when I was 7 and passed it around at the family Thanksgiving celebration. The poem was about my cat, only I didn't own a cat and I never had owned a cat. I thought the aunts and uncles were chuckling because I'd written the contraction "he'll" and it looked like a word I wasn't supposed to say or write. Much, much later, I re-read the poem and understood the laughter. I'd written this about "my" cat: "Then he'll have kittens."

How did you become an author?

Probably by finding it very difficult to stop writing.

What was your first published piece?

An article about what was going on in my junior high.

Where was it published?

A small community newspaper. I was school liaison and wrote that column several times.

How long ago?

Last century.

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

Before seriously attempting fiction, I worked in office jobs, mainly with numbers. But there were people, too, and people always give a writer insight into character and motivation.

What inspires you?

Everything. If I go to a museum or a fabric or yarn shop, I come home wanting to paint or create, which usually takes the form of sewing and/or embroidery. If I'm stuck on something in my writing, I'll think through the problem while going for a walk, shoveling snow (!), knitting, or sewing. Usually, though, the best thing is to sit at the computer and actually write.

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques

Marketing? I asked my editor for marketing advice, and liked what she told me: "Do whatever's most comfortable for you." Mostly, when it comes to marketing and promotion, I run away screaming. I do occasionally wander into bookstores and introduce myself, and no one has thrown anything at me, yet. Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin USA) has been very helpful with marketing and publicity--in its first week, Dire Threads made it onto three mass market paperback mystery bestselling lists in the U.S.

Will there be more books in the series?

Yes, the second book in the Threadville Mystery series, working title Threaded for Trouble, comes out in June, 2012. It features a killer sewing machine. The third book is scheduled for June, 2013. I'm writing that one now.

Parting words

When writing, picture your audience. Write to entertain those folks.


Threadville has everything -- a fabric store, yarn shop, notions store, quilting boutique, and Will Vanderling's brand new shop, In Stitches, a hit with tourists eager to learn embroidering in the latest way, with software and machines.

But when the village's bullying zoning commissioner picks a fight with Willow and turns up dead in Willow's yard, the close-knit community starts unraveling at the seams.

Will must stitch together clues and find the real murder, or the next thing she embroiders may be an orange prison jumpsuit...





Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mayne Island Little Theatre presents The Geezers (a review)

What's so funny about life on the southern gulf islands?

The Geezers (Sid Filkow and Arvid Chalmers from Salt Spring Island, BC) know and they shared their views with an appreciative Mayne Island audience last Friday night.

I roared with laughter over topics such as BC ferries, deer culling (or not), and the Island Trust.
"Doesn't sound funny," you say.
"Well, then you haven't meet The Geezers," that's what I say.

Next post:  Please meet author Janet Bolin

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Introducing my boyfriend (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Precisely at seven, my guests began arriving at my stylish apartment in West Vancouver. They grouped together and immediately began to whisper.
"Look at how he's dressed."
"Who cuts his hair?"
"It really isn't like her to date white trash."
"Is he the writer who read at Ronald's party? No, he can't be."
The entree was served, and my friends spoke of lavish vacations. Jay didn't utter a word. As we ate New York cheesecake, my friend Alester inquired. "What type of car do you drive? Lexus, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Porsche?" Alester owned a luxury car dealership.
"I don't own a car," Jay said. My friends looked at him blankly. "I use public transit."
They nearly gagged.
"Well, I guess you'll be able to use Gwen's Audi now," Alester said.
It was a loaded comment, but Jay simply replied. "Yes, I guess so."
Over cocktails, one of my friends commented, "So, Gwen tells us you manage a cafe."
"Oh, yes, I do, The Starving Artist. It's a collective-owned-and-operated cafe in Kitsilano."
"For emerging and established artists and artisans," he innocently informed them.
"You're an artist?" The room fell deathly quiet.
"Yes, I'm an author."
"With which publishing house?" Victoria inquired. She had recently divorced the chief editor at Fitzgerald and Fraser.
"Oh, no, self-published."
I heard gasps and saw shocked faces. The minute he left for the bathroom, they started yapping at me like Pomeranians.
"You're letting him use your car?"
"He's a gold digger. When he finds out you have no money, he'll dump you."
"He's not good enough for you."
"He's not rich enough."
"He's just a dreamer."
"You can do so much better."
"I'm in love. You're my friends. I thought you would be happy." My voice was measured, controlled.
"Are you planning to tell Patrick about Jay? Or juggle them both?" Alester sneered. Patrick owned the apartment I lived in rent-free. He lived half of the year in Ireland and the other half in Vancouver with me.
"Friends? Honestly, Gwen, how did you pick us?" I should have known Cleo would defend me. "This is none of our business. There's no ring on her finger. She's free to do what, and whoever, she wants."
"I'm planning to move out," I said bluntly, hoping to silence them.
"Really? You're jobless, penniless. Where are you going to go?"
Before I could answer Alester's question, Jay walked back into the room.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Report from The Word on the Street

Mission:  To promote reading, writing and literacy while showcasing the depth and diversity of Canada's publishing industry
Who:  Authors, publishers, booksellers, storytellers, performers and thousands of book lovers
Where:  Six Canadian cities, coast to coast--including Vancouver, British Columbia; Lethbridge, Alberta; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Kitchener and Toronto, Ontario; and Halifax, Nova Scotia
When:  Sunday, September, 25th
(Note:  This year Vancouver's event was expanded to three-days--Friday, September 23rd to Sunday, September 25th)
(Information collected from The Word on the Street pamphlet)

My personal experience...
My involvement with the festival began with an email from Debra Purdy Kong (Crime Writers of Canada British Columbia/Yukon regional vice-president). She wrote to solicit volunteers to represent CWC. Even though I'd never attended The Word on the Street, I seized this opportunity. In further correspondence, Deborah asked me to help work the booth from one to three o'clock.

Travelling from my quiet rural island to a city alive with words was a culture shock. I arrived at the event at 11 AM. Arriving early provided me with an opportunity to explore. The Mainstage already pulsed with music. Smaller tents housed authors reading to attentive audiences.

From these venues, I moved from booth to booth, networking with authors, editors, publishers and other professionals--many of whom I've invited to visit this blog. Watch for these interviews and guest posts to be featured in the coming months.

At the Crime Writers of Canada booth, I distributed bookmarks, promoted books and spoke with readers.

The Word on the Street is a dynamic, activity-packed event and I'm very glad I attended. Next year I plan to listen to some panel discussions as well.

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's easier than you think

Balking at change
Scared of something new
You're not alone
I'm with you

Case in pont, a couple of months ago I shared my disinterest (dislike, fear) of knitting on circular needles. In fact, I went so far as to develop a technique for knitting in the round on two straight needles.

Well, lately, I had a revelation.

You see, this year's hot accessory is the cowl.

You'll be seeing them everywhere.

I'm currently knitting for a winter craft show and thought,  I have to knit some cowls. If I knit them on two straight needles, I'll have to sew a seam. How will hide that seam?

This question led me to my revelation. I bought a circular needle.

Problem:  it coils
Solution:  Rubbing the needle between your hands will release some of the coil.

I cast on some stitches (Don't ask me how many. I just filled the needle. My best guess--over 80.) and discovered some advantages.

-In order to form a Stockinette stitch (knit, purl) all you have to do is garter stitch. Never ending, mindless garter stitch--my favour kind of knitting.
-In order to stop knitting, you don't have to wait to get to the end of the row. You just shove all the stitches to the centre of the needle.

I'm actually enjoying knitting on circular needles--who knew?
Next post:  Report from The Word on the Street